OUR VIEW: Access to care determined by income and race

The latest compilation of U.S. Census figures confirms the embarrassing truth about our health care system, that the poorest and sickest often get the least basic care like checkups and dental exams.

The findings come from a report titled Health Status, Health Insurance and Medical Services Utilization: 2010. The good news is that two thirds of Americans feel their health is excellent or very good.

The bad news is that over the past 10 years more Americans have lost health care insurance and are making fewer visits to doctors, dentists, nurses and other health care providers.

Working-age Americans (18-64), made an average of 3.9 visits to medical providers in 2010 compared to 4.8 visits in 2001.

Among those adults who reported that their health was either fair or poor, the average number of annual visits dropped from 12.9 to 11.6 over the 10-year period.

People without insurance, according to the report, are less likely to visit a doctor. In 2010, 17 percent of Americans had no health insurance while that number has risen to 21.7 percent in 2010.

The reduced number of visits is likely the result of fewer people having health insurance while those with health insurance are facing higher deductibles and premiums combined with medical costs that have risen far faster than incomes.

Race and income continue to influence how many health care visits people make.

Whites were the most likely to have had at least one medical provider visit in 2010 (77.2 percent). They were also the most likely to report being in good or excellent health.

Blacks were less likely to have at least one visit (70.3 percent) and Hispanics were the least likely of all (57.7) percent.

Part of the difference can be attributed to demographics. Young people are less likely to visit a doctor and Hispanics are, on average, younger than whites or blacks.

But other Census numbers show income also determines how much medical and dental care people receive and how likely they are to take prescription drugs.

"Among people in poverty, 38.6 percent went without seeing a medical provider in the previous 12 months compared to 19.1 percent of those whose family income was greater than or equal to 400 percent of the poverty threshold."

Basic dental care is even more a function of income.

More than half of those in poverty (57.4 percent) did not visit a dentist in the past year, while only a quarter (26.1 percent) of the highest income group failed to see a dentist.

The same goes for access to prescription drugs.

"Among people who were in poverty, 65.8 percent reported never having taken medication in the previous year, compared to 52.2 percent of people whose family income was at least 400 percent of the poverty threshold."

Sadly, the Census Bureau survey found a negative relationship between health status and insurance coverage.

"People with poor, fair, or good health were more likely to be uninsured (23.4, 25.2 and 24.4 percent respectively) than those with very good or excellent health (20.1 and 15.6 percent)."

And, naturally, a high family income usually means people have health care insurance through their work or can pay for it on their own.

The overall picture that emerges is of an uneven health care system that provides more dependable care for those who have insurance, good health and higher incomes.

While the system is less available to the poorest and sickest.

rrhoades@sunjournal.com

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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Comments

CRYSTAL WARD's picture

communism ? Marxist ?

Oh my, More name calling--- one of the major forms of propaganda in use again.
the so called $700 million cut in Medicare has resulted in MORE Medicare benefits --Like preventive care and closing that terrible "donut Hole" in the Bush unpaid for prescription drug plan. I will take that kind of "cut" any day. I have lost no freedoms, the Bill of Rights stand strong and All americans may be able to have health care. Obamacares about ALL americans , even those in poverty,with disablities/ preexisiting conditions and the elderly. Our Constitution begins "We the People" Not Some of the people

Norman Mitchell's picture

Obamacare

Obamacare what ? the biggest tax in history remember the supreme court ruling wake up Obamacare gauntness higher tax burden no coverage for the working poor , only for those that can afford it or those that cant just like now ! steals 700 million from medicare ! what you get is the biggest loss of freedom ever seen in this country be scared when your government can dictate to you what you buy !! facts Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime coverage limits on your insurance but can charge what ever they want for this coverage ! insurers will have to cover everyone, preexisting condition or not. and charge as much as they want for that too ! Insurance companies can't drop you when you get sick and charge what ever they want for this risk too ! You can stay on your parents' insurance until you're 26 already could till 25 in Maine ! Insurers to cut costs to meet the regulatory demands of President Obama’s health care law are dropping maternity coverage or reducing it significantly ! Obama’s solution will drive costs higher for everyone ! Fact Obamacare a $1.7 trillion program with a trillion dollars in new taxes, plus $700 billion in Medicare cuts and doesn’t really do much for the overall level of American health care coverage The employer mandate will raise the cost of doing business and discourage job growth. and its a budget buster. The new health care law fails to protect the conscience rights of physicians who refuse to provide or refer patients for abortions… or the conscience rights of taxpayers who refuse to pay for abortions. Another example of big brother government forcing its will on the people ah the road to communism has been long Marxism at work in America sad !

Steve  Dosh's picture

Access to care determined by income and race

all , 10 am ish ƒlyday
. .Yes ? . Access to health care in the U S of A is determined by income , race , language , and employment status . This is - why - we are #17 in health care ( worldwide ) and slipping . We discriminate against our own sick people . Obamacare® will address this situation next year . In the meantime , go to lá Canada or Mexico , Mainers , if you are sick and need access to universal care . You will not be denied care . Mike Moore gave further pointers in his seminal 2 0 0 7 film http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicko
Prevention is the best cure , especially in dentistry •
h t h ? Dr. Dosh ( ret.) , HI 96778 u s a

Carl Kimball's picture

HEALTH INSURANCE

When i retired i was given the option to carry on my insurance from my company, but it would cost over 900 a month and my retirement was just over 500 a month. So really i had no choice. I have been without insurance since 2005, but my wife has medicare and mainecare due to her disability, which i'm thankful for that she has the coverage. I hear from a lot of people, who have a job, alot of negitive comments about people who can't afford the insurance, but they need to realize that i may have retired, but most people out there have lost their jobs. And they need to understand that in todays world, NO JOB is a guarantee. When i was younger i could walk off one job and be on another the next day. Today there are too many jobless people and not enough jobs to be free to go and choice. More and more companies are having a hard time insuring their workers and if a person has a precondition, then the company is more likely not going to hire them because of the insurance. So we need changes that help both the patient, the careprovider and still let's the insurance company make a profit. (just my opinion and not that of this paper)

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I'd comment on this but....

I just wore out another key board, maybe tomorrow, what time does Best Buy open??????

Steve  Dosh's picture

Frank ƒlyday 10 am ish hst ?

Frank ƒlyday 10 am ish hst ?
http://www.bestbuy.com . . They are probably open 24 x 7 . Staples ®  ? Office Max ®  Local yard sales ( for printers and fax machines ;) ? Garage - garbage , rummage - rubbish sales ¿ Wally World ® maybe ? Sally Store ? Goodwill ? . l o l . .my keys are popping off , too , just take an old keyboard and p r y the keys off and place them on the one that works ? :D
In fact , our local dump here in Hawai'i has a - g r e a t - second hand shop
Personally , I usually do not comment on posts that start off with a tautology ( circular reasoning ) along the lines of " Income and health are correlated to income . . .." No duh . Waste of time and breathe :)
Here are the facts Republicans , like 'em or not : Health Reform in Action | The White House http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform Health Care that Works for US ...
Doing nothing is a choice G O P ?
Republican's inaction
Vote or they win • 

Denis Ledoux's picture

Access to care determined by income and race

Everyone knows that income and health care are closely correlated to income. ObamaCare was a tiny step in the right direction. We continue to desperately need a universal health care system. A vote for the Republican ticket is a vote for less health care and a vote for the Democratic ticket is a vote for increased attention to the health of our citizenry. Ultimately we need a plan such as our Canadian relatives and friends enjoy.

BTW, in our system it is at the primary that we vote for the candidate. At the general election, one's vote HAS to be cast for the party. While it SEEMS to be reasonable and thoughtful to vote for "the best man/woman," in practice it is foolishness. The next president will probably name 2 or 3 Supreme Court justices. Voters in November are also casting ballots for those justices. A Republican president will name Republicans and a Democrat will name a Democrat. "The best man/woman" in the end will be faithful to a party. Which party represents our best interests?

If affordable health care is important to you, vote Democrat.

DANNY FITZSIMMONS's picture

raise = insurance increase

Each year or two when it normaly was a time of a wage increase it now is a paycut cause the insurance eats up your raise and then some, so you end up with a higher deductible and a higher premium, except if your a city,state, or federal worker then in that case you do get your raise increase and your health insurance + dental wow nice to see our tax dollars at work, ( and lifetime Ins. + spouce thats just Sick) The only one who at least started to do something was Obama but there is more much more to do so that the rest of us has as good insurance as those we have work for us thats all I want.

DANNY FITZSIMMONS's picture

raise = insurance increase

Each year or two when it normaly was a time of a wage increase it now is a paycut cause the insurance eats up your raise and then some, so you end up with a higher deductible and a higher premium, except if your a city,state, or federal worker then in that case you do get your raise increase and your health insurance + dental wow nice to see our tax dollars at work, ( and lifetime Ins. + spouce thats just Sick) The only one who at least started to do something was Obama but there is more much more to do so that the rest of us has as good insurance as those we have work for us thats all I want.

Margaret Tyler's picture

Really

People have known this for years ,so whats new !!!!!!

Steve  Dosh's picture

Peggy ? 12.10.05 10:10 hst

Peggy ? 12.10.05 10:10 hst ƒlyday
What's news ? Unemployment is at the lowest rate since . . Bush , jr. ( today's headline :)
Do not vote for that misfit , Mitsie or his cookie cutter wifey who has never held a job and owns two Caddilacs ® despite the fact they claim to be from the Commonwealth of Massatwos*its ?
Vote in stead for the magna cum laude Princeton graduate Michelle Obama ( and their darling kids , Shasha and Melia ) and our SECSTATE ßillery [ sic. ] to continue onward and upward
In fact , in ME , vote straight Democrat this season . Can't lose . No losers in that crowd
Speaking of losers , is your Governor running this time around , too ?
http://www.twincitytimes.com <- not an endorsement •/s , Dr. Dosh ( D - HI )

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

..."or his cookie cutter

..."or his cookie cutter wifey who has never held a job and owns two Caddilacs".....
You criticize Mayor Macdonald for his comments regarding Somalis and yet you go right ahead and spew the above trash about a woman who has survived breast cancer, suffers from MS and has managed to raise 5 boys and have them grow up to be upstanding citizens. You are living proof that there are no depths of low to which a liberal democrat will not go.Bottom feeders.
And, that bogus unemployment rate of 7.1% is just as phony as you are.

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